Trouble-free family reunions

July 28, 1999

Each year, about 200,000 people gather for family reunions.

Pork is a natural for an outdoor reunion because it pairs well with the sharp, smoky flavors imparted by grilling. For optimal, fork-tender pork, grill to medium-doneness or an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

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Watermelon is full of nutrition and loaded with fun, making it a perfect choice as well. Guilt-free and good for you, watermelon contains no fat or cholesterol, and a 2-cup serving is just 80 calories. Watermelon also is high in vitamins C and A.

Worcestershire sauce is ideal for marinades and sauces, imparting bold flavors to your favorite grilled dishes.

Planning ahead is the key to an organized, well-attended family reunion.

Here are some time-saving tips to keep you cool:

* Announce the reunion well in advance. Send out eye-catching invitations, make phone calls and e-mail family members.

* Keep a checklist - with completion dates - of everything that needs to be done. Get family members involved in the planning, including the kids. Prepare shopping and supplies lists well in advance.


* Provide plenty of activities and games for the kids. Family reunions are a perfect time for kids to learn more about their heritage. Plan a family trivia game made up of questions such as who is the oldest person at the reunion, who is the youngest and who came from the farthest distance.

* Decide what kind of decorations are appropriate and how much money should be budgeted. Keep it simple.

* Have disposable cameras on the tables to document family memories.

* For outdoor reunions, keep an indoor backup location in mind, just in case the weather isn't as considerate as you are.

* Lighten the workload by preparing "do-ahead" foods the day before - or opt to have each family bring several dishes to a potluck.

Backyard Barbecue Spareribs

  • 4 pounds pork spareribs, approximately 2 slabs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry cola soft drink
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

Cut rib slabs in half. Rub surface of ribs with salt and pepper. Prepare banked, medium-hot coals. Grill ribs over indirect heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, in covered grill, turning occasionally.

Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Brush ribs generously with sauce. Cook ribs for an additional 30 minutes, basting and turning once or twice.

Serves 4.

Watermelon Waldorf Salad

  • 2 cups cubed watermelon, about 3/4-inch cubes, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup seedless red grape halves
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup nonfat coleslaw dressing
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Stir together watermelon, celery and grapes in a bowl. Just before serving, stir salt into coleslaw dressing. Pour mixture over fruit and stir until coated. Sprinkle with almonds.

Serves 6.


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